October 22nd, 2012
This week brings us the release of four economic reports and two relevant Treasury auctions for the bond market to digest in addition to another FOMC meeting. There is nothing of importance scheduled for release Monday or Tuesday, but we do have important events to watch every other day. The data scheduled this week ranges from low importance to extremely important so some reports will have a much bigger impact on trading than others. We also need to keep an eye on the stock markets as they can be heavily influential on bond market direction and mortgage rates. In other words, there is a pretty good chance of seeing noticeable movement in mortgage rates several days this week, especially if the major stock indexes rally or post sizable losses.
Wednesday starts the week’s agenda with the release of September’s New Home Sales at 10:00 AM ET. This data covers the small percentage of home sales that last week’s Existing Home Sales report didn’t include and is this week’s least important data. It is expected to show an increase in sales of newly constructed homes, but regardless of its results I am not expecting it to have a significant impact on mortgage rates Wednesday.
This week’s FOMC meeting is a two-day meeting that begins Tuesday and adjourns Wednesday afternoon. There really is no possibility of the Fed changing key short-term interest rates this week. But market participants will be looking at the post-meeting statement for any indication of change in Fed sentiment or possibly further development on recent talk of them issuing certain targets in particular economic readings that would trigger an automatic increase in key short-term interest rates. This would eliminate most of the guessing in the markets of what it will take for the Fed to start raising those rates. The meeting will adjourn at 2:150 PM ET Wednesday, so look for any reaction to the statement to come during afternoon hours.
Early Thursday morning, the Commerce Department will post Durable Goods Orders for September. This report gives us a measurement of manufacturing sector strength by tracking orders at U.S. factories for big-ticket items, or products that are expected to last three or more years. Analysts are currently calling for a jump in new orders of approximately 7.4%. If we see a much larger increase in orders, mortgage rates will probably rise as bond prices fall. On the other hand, a significantly weaker than expected reading should be good news for the bond market and mortgage rates, but this data can be quite volatile from month to month and is difficult to forecast. Therefore, a small variance from forecasts likely will have little impact on bond trading or mortgage pricing.
The final two economic reports will be released Friday morning, one of which is not only the most important report of the week, but also the most important we see regularly. The preliminary reading of the 3rd Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be released early Friday morning. The GDP is considered to be the benchmark measurement of economic growth because it is the total of all goods and services produced in the U.S. and therefore is likely to have a major impact on the financial markets and mortgage pricing. There are three versions of this report, each a month apart. Friday’s release is the first and usually has the biggest impact on the markets. Current forecasts call for an increase of approximately 1.9% in the GDP, which would mean that the economy grew at a noticeably quicker pace than the 2nd quarter’s 1.3%. If this report shows a much smaller increase, I am expecting to see the bond market rally and mortgage rates fall. However, a larger than expected rise could lead to a rally in stocks, bond selling and a sizable increase in mortgage pricing Friday morning.
The week’s last report comes just before 10:00 AM ET Friday when the University of Michigan updates their Index of Consumer Sentiment for this month. Current forecasts show this index remaining nearly unchanged from the preliminary reading of 83.1. This report is moderately important because it helps us measure consumer confidence, which is believed to indicate consumers’ willingness to spend. If consumers are more confident in their own financial and employment situations, they are more apt to make a large purchase in the near future. Since consumer spending makes up over two-thirds of the U.S. economy, any related data is watch closely.
This week also has Treasury auctions scheduled each day except Friday. The only two that have the potential to influence mortgage rates are Wednesday’s 5-year and Thursday’s 7-year Note sales. If those sales are met with a strong demand from investors, particularly Thursday’s auction, bond prices may rise during afternoon trading. This could lead to improvements to mortgage rates shortly after the results of the sales are posted at 1:00 PM ET each day. But a lackluster investor interest may create selling in the broader bond market and lead to upward revisions to mortgage rates.
Overall, it will likely be a fairly calm early part of the week but very active latter part for the markets and mortgage rates. I believe that the single most important day will probably end up being Friday with the extremely important GDP release in the morning, but anytime there is an FOMC meeting there is a good possibility of seeing the markets move significantly. Monday is likely to be the least important day, but we still could see some movement in rates as the markets prepare for the upcoming week. Accordingly, I strongly recommend maintaining contact with your mortgage professional this week if still floating an interest rate.